It’s all coming together now: The major tollways connecting the northern and southern parts of Metro Manila are really starting to take shape as San Miguel Corporation kicks off work on the 1.2km road that will link its recently completed Skyway Stage 3 to the NLEX Connector Road. The latter, which is being constructed by Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, is an 8km elevated expressway that runs from C3 in Caloocan to Santa Mesa in Manila.
The connecting road between the two elevated expressways was originally scheduled to be delivered by December 2020, but as with Skyway Stage 3, right-of-way (ROW) issues had thrown the timeline off-track.
Resolving right-of-way issues
“We’re already mobilizing our contractors to start work in areas that are unobstructed, where we’re permitted to work,” said SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang. “We’re also already committing the funds needed to buy the ROW properties, so hopefully, these issues will be resolved the soonest.”
The location of the connecting road falls within the City of Manila. “The alignment for this connection to the NLEX Connector project...was supposed to be built together with Section 2 of Skyway 3 in the Nagtahan to Santa Mesa area,” Ang explained. “However, about two years since we first worked on workable areas for Skyway 3, the ROW issue in Section 2 threatened to stall the project. That is why we proposed to realign Skyway 3 along the San Juan River, so that the project could be completed faster and provide a solution to traffic—not cause more of it.”
The plans for the connecting road require a number of design revisions to work around the ROW constraints, which SMC says it is now in the process of resolving. Of note, the latest proposed toll fees for Skyway Stage 3 are considerably higher than what was projected at the start of the project, partly due to additional expenses incurred in ROW acquisition.
“To show our commitment to complete the connection, even if the main alignment was already moved to San Juan River, we signed a memorandum of agreement with the Toll Regulatory Board and the Department of Public Works and Highways,” Ang continued. “We basically already committed the budget for the ROW acquisition—we will pay for it—and we will complete this section within 24 months.”
By our count, that means the project’s target completion date is late 2022 or early 2023. SMC is also starting work on the Pasig River Expressway to connect the eastern and western portions of Metro Manila.